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Alfonso M. Carrasco
After a short split prologue showing riches as the root of evil in ancient and modern times, the film settles into 1914 France, where the Orient Express is about to be wrecked when a bridge washes out. Among those on board are Al and Travis, Americans who are traveling Europe spending Travis' money, and Marie, a German girl. The boys save Marie after the wreck and Travis falls in love with her. When World War I breaks out Al wants to enlist, but Travis can't, feeling loyal to Marie, a German. By 1917 Al has enlisted, and Travis follows him shortly after marrying Marie. Accused of being a German spy by a Russian agent, she is sentenced to die but is recognized by Travis, who is part of the firing squad. The town they are in is shelled and they are all trapped underground, during which a minister makes a lengthy parallel to ancient times when the King of Akkad persecuted his subjects and defied Jehovah, who finally sends a flood to wipe out mankind, except for Noah and his family, whom ... Written by
Ron Kerrigan <,firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gripping flood scenes save Ark from being total wash out.
Noah's Ark is an awkward fit of two earth shaking cataclysms ( the legendary animal cruise and the World War ) featuring the same actors in parallel roles and stories in this semi-silent that resembles Griffith's Intolerance. The problem is most of it deals with the contemporary story that never approaches the sublime but does attain the ridiculous with its absurd ending.
Al (Guinn Williams) and Travis (George O'Brien) rescue Mary (Dolores Costello) from a train wreck. Travis and Mary, a German, link up but when the Great War begins Al answers the call while Travis remains conflicted but eventually signs up. Mary meanwhile sings in a revue but is accused of being a spy and sentenced to be shot. The Ark segment has the same lovers in a similar predicament pursued by the same power abusing miscreant (Noah Beery).
O'Brien and Costello make a good pairing in both stories along with Beery's vile villain but the big star of the picture is the flood in which the callous Curtiz more than earned his slave driving reputation by drowning three extras and injuring dozens of others. It is evident from the force and amount of water that extras are struggling not acting in these scenes as they are tossed like rag dolls over the jagged scenery. They are visually astounding to watch but clearly cross the line with the endangerment posed and loss of life.
Ethics aside it is the far fetched contemporary story (handled far better in Ingram's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Vidor's The Big Parade) that sinks Ark which uses it's plea for universal understanding as a slick excuse to project out of control cinematic mayhem.
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